Judge hearing case about Mumia Abu-Jamal's denied appeals

- A court hearing is taking place for Mumia Abu-Jamal, who is serving life in prison for the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981.

Abu-Jamal is hoping to overturn all of the state Supreme Court rulings from 1995 to 2008 that denied his appeals.

Lawyer Rocco Cipparone explained, the reason for the hearing is last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in another case -- Pennsylvania v. Williams -- that overturned a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision.

The High Court in Washington ruled former Philadelphia District Attorney Ron Castille should not have been an appellate judge in a case he also had a part in prosecuting.

In the Williams case, Castille was the DA and later participated in a decision in the case as a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice.

Abu-Jamal’s lawyers want that to apply in their case, as well.

In Abu-Jamal’s case, Castille was not the DA at the time, but he was the DA presiding over some appeals. Abu-Jamal’s lawyers said at the time Castille was a justice, he should’ve recused himself from the case. Instead, Castille refused, saying he could separate his feelings.

According to Cipparone, that was possibly one of the highest-profile cases Castille handled as DA.

Monday morning, there were about 50 protesters outside the Criminal Justice Center and a rally was scheduled for noon.

Cipparone expects the DA’s office to argue there were other justices who agreed with the decisions against Abu-Jamal’s appeals.

If Abu-Jamal’s side wins on Monday, Cipparone says their requests for appeals will not be thrown out, but the lawyers would be able to relitigate before the current court. Then, the current court would decide whether to uphold the conviction or throw it out.

The decision after Monday’s hearing may take a while, and there could be several appeals after it does come out.

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